For existing (legacy) safety systems approaching the 10-year age mark, there are four significant issues that Operators should be aware of, in order to avoid SIL-Degradation of their safety instrumented systems (SIS).

1. Mission Time
The Mission Time (MT) is the time interval for which a SIS should operate without requiring major refurbishment or complete replacement. In VDI/VDE 2180-3 ‘Mission-Time’ (T2) is defined more specifically as the interval after which all elements have to be tested with complete proof test coverage (CPT=100%); in practice this likely means complete refurbishment or replacement.  MT could be chosen based on the useful life of the main devices, such as safety logic solver (‘ESD system’). A typical value of MT is 15 – 20 years.
The MT should be defined in the Safety Requirements Specification (SRS) in accordance with IEC 61511, §10 (VDI/VDE 2180-2, §6). For legacy systems, this value might not be clear and it may be tempting for Operators to push this value out in order to delay OPEX. However, even for plant that has not reached the MT limit, the effect on SIL-rating when combined with incomplete proof-test coverage can be significant, as shown below.

2. Proof Test Coverage
Proof test coverage (CPT) is the fraction of dangerous undetected failures that can be revealed by regular testing. When considering achieved SIL ratings, CPT  has an effect on PFDavg over the Mission Time as per the simplified formula shown below.

PFDAVG = CPT λD TI/2 + (1-CPT) λD MT/2

This can be shown graphically in the following chart.

SIL-Degradation (PFD vs Time)

SIL-Degradation (PFD vs Time)

The blue line shows how PFD is ‘reset’ after the regular proof test (e.g. every 12 months), assuming a theoretical coverage of 100%, i.e. all potential failures detected. At the other extreme, the red line shows how PFD increases logarithmically if no proof testing is carried out at all. The green line shows a realistic CPT of 85%; even in this case, the PFD increases over time, such that by the end of Mission Time (in this case 15 years), the PFDavg for the hypothetical SIS shown may have crossed the threshold between SIL-2 and SIL-1 (SIL-Degradation). Therefore, as mentioned above, the MT and CPT in combination can have a significant effect on achieved SIL-rating over plant lifetime.
So what are the actual achievable CPT‘s in practice? Exida, for instance, has published data which shows that the CPT for an actuator/valve assembly can vary from 57-99%, depending on whether a partial or full stroke test is performed, in best case combined with monitoring of seat leakage under operating conditions. In order to make a realistic estimate of actual CPT, Operators should compare their documented proof-test procedures with Manufacturer’s published data (as per Safety Manual) and / or industry sources such as Exida’s SERH database. The next release of NAMUR NE 106 (planned for 2018) will provide CPT bands for generic proof test activities, so this should give additional guidance.

3. Useful Life
The calculation of PFD is based on the assumption of constant failure rate during the so-called ‘useful life’ of a component. The useful life is derived from the ‘bath-tub’ model and considers that wear-out conditions eventually lead to increasing and unpredictable failures. Manufacturers define the useful life based on statistical analysis of field-installed devices, or alternatively this may be calculated by theoretical methods such as FMEDA.
Useful life may be surprisingly short. For instance, one Manufacturer defines the useful life of a solenoid valve as between 3 – 10 years, depending on power consumption and fail-safe configuration (e.g. de-energise to trip). Useful life can be further reduced by harsh operating environment or process conditions.
The main reason to be aware of useful life, is that once this is exceeded for a single component of a safety loop, then the entire basis for SIL-calculation becomes invalid, since the assumption of constant failure rate no longer holds. Plant maintenance programs should maintain a record of useful life of safety-critical components, such that these can be replaced or refurbished in time to avoid SIL-Degradation.

4. Actual demand / failure rate
Finally, the HAZOP / SIL / LOPA analysis carried out at the start of a Project will have made certain assumptions for demand and failure rate. These are often based on Operator experience of similar plant or industry standard values. IEC 61511-1 §16.2 requires Operators to collect actual operating data to ensure that original risk analysis assumptions are still valid (see also VDE/VDI 2180-1 and Namur NE 93 / 130). For a Plant that has been in operation for 10 years, there should be sufficient operating data available in order to confirm or update HAZOP / LOPA assumptions. Such data can also support ‘Proven-In-Use’ evaluations, where manufacturer certification is missing or outdated. In many cases, evaluation of such data can work in Operator’s favour, since demonstration of lower demand rate and/or better than assumed equipment failure rates may allow reduction of SIL-requirements. On the other hand, an increased frequency of trips or dangerous events may require installation of additional protections or improvement in the integrity level of existing SIFs.

Here are the questions which Operators of existing plant should ask:
– What is my Mission Time?
– What is the actual proof test coverage of my regular safety loop testing?
– Have any of the components in my SIL-Loops exceeded their useful life?
– Do I have operating data to back up the assumptions of demand and failure rate?

PSC provides audit and assessment services according to IEC 61511 to identify gaps in FSM documentation and operating practice that might lead to SIL-degradation for legacy plant.